The automotive industry may be going through an electric car revolution, but at the same time, actual cars seem left behind. The shift to EVs has been heavy on electric crossovers like the Tesla Model Y, and pickups like Ford’s F-150 Lightning, while the traditional sedan and hatchback shape has been left by the wayside. Pickup trucks, crossovers, and SUVs are quickly becoming the de facto choice among most consumers, regardless of whether those vehicles are electric or gas-powered. But thankfully, Hyundai has embraced the sedan and delivered an interesting aero steampunk electric four-door that doesn’t resemble anything else on the road.
Hyundai’s latest and greatest EV, the Ioniq 6, is ultra-aerodynamic and chic, eschewing the practicality associated with a hatchback or crossover shape (and the easy cargo storage that comes with that configuration), but for good reason. The vehicle’s targeted clientele includes the young professionals and millennials who aren’t necessarily focused on outright practicality. Instead, those customers want design, style, driving engagement, and range; they’d rather trade off practicality to get those things.
And thus, the Ioniq 6 is a very different-looking vehicle from its sister model, the Ioniq 5, despite sharing a platform. While the Ioniq 5 is a practical crossover-shaped retro homage to Hyundai’s first car, the Pony, the Ioniq 6 takes a different route. The Ioniq 6 feels like a pastiche of 1930s-era aerodynamic streamlined cars like the Chrysler Airflow or the Stout Scarab, but mixed in with an obscure callback to 1990s-era efforts from Hyundai itself. Add in a dash of square video-game-like pixel details in the taillights, and that’s the Ioniq 6.
Regardless of how you might feel about the execution, the Ioniq 6 is a visually striking car. From the side view, the very short nose quickly sweeps into the main arch that comprises most of the Ioniq 6’s cabin. Then, that arch gently flows into the rear trunk area, terminating in a rear overhang and decklid that visually appears to make the rear of the car look longer than the front.
The Ioniq 6 is organic in its form—an odd, funky-looking design that somehow works. The result is a car that appears delicate, petite, and low-slung, with just a touch of retro; if you squint, the front fascia and overall shape feel like a strangely modernized, ultra-sleek version of the 1996 Hyundai Elantra.
The Ioniq 6 is different from its siblings
It is easy to think that with the shift to electrified transit, every EV will look, feel, and drive the same. After all, the Ioniq 6, Kia EV6, Genesis GV60, and Ioniq 5 all share a technology platform: Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP for short, forms the basis of most new Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia EVs, including the forthcoming EV9 seven-passenger crossover. That’s a very diverse range of products, and they all share common motor, battery, and platform designs. So, does that mean they’ll be the same car?
In a word, no. Hyundai’s engineering team went to work differentiating the Ioniq 6 from its platform kin. The Ioniq 6 aims for a more engaging driver-centric experience, without compromising a composed and smooth ride. The engineers learned from the Ioniq 5, and they’ve tweaked and changed things about the Ioniq 6, just to make it that much different from the Ioniq 5, and in turn, other E-GMP platform vehicles. Hyundai likens this to chess pieces, where each model has a different role, but they’re all part of the same cohesive lineup.
Inside, much of the Ioniq 6’s interior instrument panel and dashboard elements are shared with the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5. This means a twin-screen setup controls most of the interactions, for the radio and other general controls. A line of physical buttons for HVAC controls and volume sit underneath it. Most of the user interface screens and infotainment setups are the same as other EV Hyundai and Kia products, which means that they’re good. Those systems are easy to use and well organized. If using their systems is too hard, the Ioniq 6 comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
But, that’s where the similarities between the Ioniq 6 and other Hyundai and Kia products ends. The center console sits close to the driver and passenger, coming up to meet the dashboard. The door panels are simple and switchless. The switches for the windows and locks have been moved to the center console. It’s more claustrophobic than the Ioniq 5, but here, it feels distinctly sporty.
How the Hyundai Ioniq 6 drives
The Ioniq 6 doesn’t drive like its E-GMP siblings, either. Piloting the Ioniq 6 around the curvy roads of Scottsdale, Arizona was a delight. The car silently and accurately slinks around curves, with the precision of sci-fi cyberpunk killer snake assassin. Whereas the Ioniq 5 feels soft almost to the point of wallowy, the Ioniq 6 is dialed in. The less-upright seats and lower center of gravity make the Ioniq 6 feel more engaging on curvy roads, unlike the Ioniq 5.
The Ioniq 6 doesn’t weigh that much less than the Ioniq 5, and yet, the Ioniq 6’s character is lighter and more jovial, compared to the serious and utilitarian Ioniq 5. The steering is more engaging than the Ioniq 5, although it’s not quite as sharp as the Tesla Model 3. Driving the Ioniq 6 against its platform-mates gives the impression that Hyundai’s engineers took the command to make the Ioniq 6 a sharp-handling sedan very seriously.
The motivating power for the Ioniq 6 comes in one of two forms. In rear-wheel-drive models, a single rear-mounted motor fed by either a 53 kWh battery (for standard range) or 77.4 kWh battery (for long range) turns the rear wheels. It’s good for a healthy 225 horsepower (149 horsepower in the standard range), and 258 ft/lbs of torque. The higher-equipped, dual-motor, AWD trims can produce 340 horsepower and 448 ft/lbs of torque. That will shunt the car from 0-60 in under 4 seconds. Both trims are more than adequate on the street, allowing for brisk performance no matter which motor and battery combination.
The Ioniq 6’s standard-range 53 kWh battery pack is smaller than the Ioniq 5 standard range’s 58 kWh battery. Yet, the Ioniq 6 can go further on a smaller battery pack. Even in the smallest model, Hyundai claims a range of 240 miles. The Nissan Leaf can’t go as far as the Ioniq 6, and the Bolt can crest 258 miles (or 247 miles in EUV form). The range-leading SE trim in single motor, rear-wheel form can achieve 361 miles on a single charge, which is very impressive for a relatively small 77.4 kWh battery. This is part of how optimized the Ioniq 6 is compared to its EV kin on the same platform. Its wind-cheating shape allows Hyundai to do more with less.
The Ioniq 6 is normal, but also not normal
The Ioniq 6 is strange to look at, but nice to drive. True, it is not without its shortcomings; there is no wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The front trunk could likely only comfortably fit one roll of discount paper towels, and the aerodynamic shape means that headroom for rear passengers is compromised, especially when equipped with the optional sunroof.
But, for many, those gripes will be fairly minor inconveniences and not outright deal breakers. The Ioniq 6’s direct competition, the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2, feel and look as if they’ve driven out of the future. However, those cars can have frustrating user interfaces and Teslas have related quality-of-build concerns. And both those cars are online-oriented buying experiences.
By comparison, the Ioniq 6 should be able to be purchased at any Hyundai dealer. Plus, the infotainment dials feel just like any other Hyundai or Kia product. It has physical buttons that don’t require pawing through complicated computerized screens to operate. It’s a very simple, uncomplicated car at its core. That’s a huge asset for those interested in going electric, but turned off by the convoluted techno-wizardry that is inherent to new EV models.
Even the pricing of the Ioniq 6 is attractively normal. The base Ioniq 6 standard range will start at $42,715, including the destination fee. That’s about $2,000 cheaper than the Tesla Model 3, although it can’t go quite as far—it’ll travel a mere 240 miles compared to the 272 of the Model 3. But for $46,615, (about $2,000 more than the base Model 3 long-range RWD), the Ioniq 6 can go nearly 100 miles further. That’s a really attractive deal.
That’s kind of the ethos of the Ioniq 6; it’s unconventional to look at, but everything else is satisfyingly conventional and has a strong value. For drivers who want an eye-catching EV that can go the distance, the Ioniq 6 is worth a look.